Phil Coyne was laid to rest today, two weeks shy of his 103rd birthday. He was widely known as the beloved, longtime Pittsburgh Pirates usher, but what he was most fervent about was his faith.
“Being a Catholic is the biggest part of my life,” Coyne told The Pittsburgh Catholic in 2017. “I was raised in it, and my parents made sure we all went to church. It is something I have kept with me my entire life.”
“Philly loved his Catholic faith and his parish, Saint Paul Cathedral, coming to Mass every Sunday without fail until just recently,” said Father Kris Stubna, rector and pastor. “He lived and shared the faith through his joyful spirit and kind heart. He was gracious to everyone and touched the lives of countless people with his gentleness and love.
“He was a true Christian.”
The oldest of eight children, Coyne graduated from Saint Agnes Elementary School and Duquesne Preparatory School. At age 17, he saw Babe Ruth hit the final three home runs of his career at Forbes Field.
The next year, he became a Pirates usher, beginning an eight-decade run interrupted only by service in the U.S. Army in World War II in the European and South Pacific theaters.
His regular job was as a machinist at Westinghouse Air Brake Company in Wilmerding. But when he showed up at the ballpark, first at Forbes Field, then Three Rivers Stadium and finally at PNC Park, Coyne really came alive.
His wide-eyed enthusiasm was infectious with fans, especially the children, who learned the game he loved and kept coming back. After they grew up, they returned with their children and later grandchildren. Coyne greeted them all with smiles and hugs.
The Pirates estimated he worked more than 6,000 home games before retiring at age 99.
Away from the ballpark, he was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians Division 9, “The Oakland Irish,” American Legion Oakland Post, and San Lorenzo di Gamberale Club of Oakland.
Coyne outlived all of his siblings, but remained close to his nieces and nephews and their children and grandkids.
His obituary concluded: In lieu of flowers, it was Phil’s hope that those wishing to remember him might consider contributions to St. Paul Cathedral, 108 N. Dithridge St., Pittsburgh, PA 15213-2608 or online at www.ghocatholics.org.
Photo courtesy of Pittsburgh Pirates